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Overview on Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Confirm BioSciences works with organizations of all types and sizes to assist them in designing customized, cost-effective, and accurate employee drug testing programs. We work with our partners to combine state-of-the-art testing methodologies with forensic-quality expertise to ensure accurate results and superior service and support.

Because every workplace is different, we offer an extensive range of popular drug test panels to meet your specific requirements. Our products can screen urine, oral fluid, and hair samples for a multitude of substances, creating unique drug test panels to test for the drugs of which you are most concerned.
Here are different drug testing programs we have to fit your needs:

  • Pre-employment drug screening
  • Random drug testing
  • Post-accident drug testing
  • Reasonable suspicion drug testing
  • Return to duty drug testing
  • Follow-up drug screenings

Studies show that companies with drug testing programs in place experience better overall employee health, lower medical expenses, improved work quality and productivity, significant drop in worker absences, and decrease in lost time due to accidents.

Creating a Drug Free Workplace & Corporate Employee Drug Testing Policy

Alcohol and Drug Abuse By Industries

Alcohol and drug use can do harm to our health, as well as to those in our surroundings. Even with continuous effort to warn of its health effects, there are still millions of people who use illegal substances. Some of them are employed in different industries across the country. Research found that there are industries that have higher cases of workers with alcohol and drug use. It is found that industries that were traditionally dominated by males and those employed with more young workers have higher rates of alcohol and drug use.

The following industries are listed by the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) to have higher risks of substance use and abuse in the workplace.

Drug Abuse in the Construction Industry

The construction industry requires safety at all times. Handling machines, other equipment and tools are dangerous when used without caution. But according to a Federal government survey, the construction industry has the highest rates of drug and alcohol abuse.

Among full-time workers aged 18 to 49:

  • 12% reported illicit drug use in the past 30 days
  • About 21% reported illicit drug use during the past year
  • About 13% admitted to heavy alcohol consumption

With this number, safety is a paramount concern. That is why a lot of businesses in the construction industry are adopting programs to lower the risk of drug and alcohol use in the workplace.

Statistics on Substance Abuse in General Service Industries

Most drug and alcohol testing programs are implemented in industries with “safety-sensitive” duties. Often times, organizations under general services are overlooked. Substance abuse in this industry also post a high risk as workers in this industry have access to important documents like financial statements, confidential information, and hold company ideas and plans. Workers handle “security-sensitive” duties in this industry. A Federal survey shows the rate of workers who abuse drugs and alcohol in different fields in this industry.

  • Business & Repair – current illicit drug use was found at 11.1%, while current heavy alcohol use was at 9.7% of workers
  • Finance, Real Estate, Insurance – 5.4% are current illicit drug users, while 4.5% are heavy alcohol drinkers
  • Personal Services – 10.3% are illicit drug users, while 5.8% are heavy alcohol drinkers
  • Professional and Related Services – 4.2% are illicit drug users, while 3.1% are heavy alcohol users
  • Public Administration – 3.7% are current illicit drug users, while 7.2% are heavy alcohol drinkers

It is important to employ workers who are healthy, to ensure that all information in the workplace is safe, especially when it involves handling other people’s personal information.

Health Care Industry Drug and Alcohol Abuse Statistics

Health care workers are also found to be at risk of workplace substance abuse. Workers in this industry who use and abuse prohibited substances pose a threat to themselves, their co-workers, and patients. Among the different professions in this industry, nurses and nursing aides have the highest rate of current drug use, at 5.5%. Therapists have the highest rate of current heavy alcohol drinkers at 3.5%. Physicians, Dentists, and Optometrists have the highest reported rate of illicit drug use in the past year with 19.8%.

Alcohol and Drug Use in Hospitality Industries

In this industry, customer service is the key to success. It is a threat to the business when workers start showing behaviors out of character because they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Workers who abuse drugs and alcohol can give a bad reputation to any kind of business. According to a Federal survey:

  • Food preparers reported the highest rate of current illicit drug use and current heavy alcohol use at 16.3%
  • Waiters and waitresses reported the second highest in the hospitality industry with 15.4% admitted to current illicit drug use and 12.1% current heavy alcohol use
  • Among maids, 7.9% are current illicit drug users while 3.6% are current heavy alcohol drinkers
  • Among ground keepers, 11.4% admit to current illicit drug use and 9.8% heavy alcohol consumption
  • Janitors also have high rates with 13% admitting to illicit drug use and 10.3% with heavy alcohol use

High Rate of Alcohol Abuse in High-Tech Industries

This industry is responsible for technology and 100% focus is needed when performing duties. Alcohol and drug use can impair workers in this industry, which can post a threat to a company’s success. Research found that 6.1% of employees who handle computer and data processors admit to current illicit drug use, and 16.2% are currently heavy alcohol drinkers. 3.6% of computer programmers and operators are current illicit drug users while 2.7% are heavy alcohol drinkers.

Manufacturing Industry Drug and Alcohol Abuse Rates

Part of establishing business success is providing quality products. In the manufacturing industry, workers who use and abuse alcohol can cause damage to goods, increase risk of accident in the workplace, and cause harm to oneself. Substance abuse is a problem in this industry and the following fields are mostly affected:

Durable goods sector

  • Lumber and wood product workers reported the highest rate of current illicit drug use and current heavy alcohol use at 8.9% and 12%
  • Professional equipment workers reported that 7.7% of them are current illicit drug users while 7.3% are heavy alcohol drinkers
  • Other categories include workers who handle electrical machinery, metal industries, and transportation equipment

Non-durable goods sector

  • Printing and publishing workers have the highest rate of current illicit drug use at 11.7%
  • Chemical product workers have the highest rate of current heavy alcohol use at 9.5%
  • Other categories include workers who handle apparel, food, paper, rubber & plastic, and textile

Illegal Substance Use in the Retail Industry

Drug abuse is a problem in the retail industry. When workers are impaired by prohibited substances they are putting themselves in danger, at the same time become a threat to customers and co-workers. Prevention is necessary especially because workers deal with customers face-to-face. According to a Federal government survey, the following rates show drug and alcohol abuse among workers in the retail industry, aged 18 to 49:

  • Food and drink workers have the highest rates in this industry. 16.3% admitted that they are currently using illicit drugs, while 15.4% admitted they are currently heavy alcohol drinkers
  • Furniture and appliance store workers admitted that 14.4% of them are current illicit drug users and 6.2% are heavy alcohol drinkers
  • Auto supply and gas station workers reported that there are 11.2% current illicit drug users and 13.2% heavy alcohol drinkers
  • Other areas that have a drug and alcohol abuse problem include workers from shoe and apparel stores, department stores, grocery stores, and other retail store.

Risks of Substance Abuse in Transportation Industries

We are always on the road. Whether we are going to work or just on our way to our local grocery store, we encounter buses and trucks on the road. The transportation industry is an industry that has high rates of alcohol and drug abuse. This poses a threat to road safety and increases risk of accident. The Federal government shows the following rates of alcohol and drug abuse in this industry.

  • Truck drivers (light) have the highest use of illicit drugs in the past year, at 18.9%. They also have the highest rate of heavy alcohol use, at 15.1%
  • Vehicle repairers reported a 17% illicit drug use in the past year – 14.9% admitted to heavy alcohol drinking
  • Among truck drivers (heavy), 16.4% admitted to illicit drug use in the past year while 13.3% admitted to heavy alcohol drinking
  • Bus drivers reported a 13.6% illicit drug use in the past year and 6.7% admitted to heavy alcohol use

Wholesale Industry Illicit Drug Use Statistics

The wholesale industry is responsible for delivering products to businesses. Drug and alcohol use can impair workers and can possibly lead to errors with consequences. A Federal government survey found that drug and alcohol abuse in this industry is a significant problem. They found that among full-time wholesale workers, aged 18 to 49:

  • 8% admitted to drug use in the past 30 days
  • 15.5% showed that they used illicit drugs in the past year
  • 10.3% admitted to heavy alcohol consumption

The rates show how drug and alcohol abuse can post a threat to different industries. Some industries and organizations are already following a drug and alcohol testing program to decrease the rates and provide a safer working environment. For organizations or businesses who want to start their own drug and alcohol program, there are agencies and organizations that provide materials and assistance in developing a program that meets your needs. You can visit the DATIA website or the U.S. Department of Labor for more information.